Did you hear the one about…
I have spent my life in ministry listening to—and telling—stories. If you have spent any time at all circulating in ministry circles you, too, have been subjected to the onslaught of stories inherent in pastoral life. Some are mundane, some ridiculous, and some reach to the depths of our hearts. We look for sermon illustrations, ways to enliven our sermons or drive home a point. We pass on a good joke. We draw from the life experiences of others. We reflect upon world events and their implications for life. We delight in discovering the drama or emotion hidden within the depths of “the rest of the story” (remember the late Paul Harvey?) that often goes unnoticed. Sometimes, I fear, we make up stories—or at least greatly exaggerate the reality—just to make a point or in an attempt to impress.
Life elicits stories. Some are recorded for posterity’s sake. Others are forgotten and lost.
Life is a story: My life, your life, life. Two thoughts:
Let your life tell the story—the story of the One who is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14: 6). I recently heard the statement, “Live your life in such a way that when people find out you are a Christian, they will want to know Christ.” That is a tremendous challenge and worthy of embracing. The story of Jesus is the story that has the power to change life, transform communities, alter history. Tell it with words. Tell it with actions. Tell it always in love. It is not first about us—our ideas, our thoughts, our activities. It is first and foremost about Jesus. Get that story first. Get it straight. If we get Jesus right, the rest will fall into place.
But also tell your story. The intersection of your life’s story with the story of Jesus is precious and worth telling. Amid the struggles and stresses, the victories and defeats, the highs and the lows, the successes and failures, there is a story of love and grace and devotion and commitment that needs to be told. Your life is precious. What God is doing in you and through you needs to be shared. You may not consider your life significant, important, or inspiring, and consequently don’t believe your story to be worth sharing. Yet if your life has intersected with the story of Jesus, what the Lord has done—and is doing in you—is precious and significant. It may be for your family, your congregation, your close friends, or perhaps complete strangers. Whatever the case may be, what God is doing in your life needs to be shared.
I am writing my autobiography for my family. Apart from my children and grandchildren, few will ever read it. It contains stories of my ancestors, my life growing up, and my relationship to my wife Debbie. It will tell the stories of my children from a father’s loving perspective. It will tell of successes and failures. It will mention people and events that have populated my journey. But mostly I hope it will be a positive testimony of what a life committed to growing into the fullness of Christ (Eph 4:13) can be. It is a story that I pray will be perpetuated in their lives. There is no better story to entrust to those who know us than the story of the loving intervention of Jesus Christ in our life. When his story becomes intertwined in my story, the story gains eternal significance. And that is a story worth telling!
Who knows your story? With whom does it need to be shared? Who does God want to bless through your life? You may not consider your life to be successful or exciting. Yet if God is at work in you, and if you will face yourself honestly, there is a story taking place that God will use in another’s life.
The world doesn’t need more spin or more personal opinion. The world needs Jesus. It needs to experience the living Christ active and working in peoples’ lives. So, tell his story; tell your story. Tell it with honesty. Tell it with gratitude. Tell it with love. If Jesus is in there, God will bless!
Written by Paul Dreger